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Studies have shown that certain foods have decreased anxiety and stress levels. Most of these foods do not take hours to prepare and are quick-to-make snacks or meals.

January 25, 2022

Foods that Decrease Anxiety and Stress


Foods that decrease anxiety and stress - feature

Anxiety and stress mount up when you are busy

Unfortunately, stress-related illnesses such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are nearing epidemic proportions. Stress can quickly build up in a busy lifestyle. Often times it can get too much to handle, and you want to throw in the towel and find something decadent but comforting to eat. More than likely, what many of us consider comfort foods, such as fries and cakes, will be your first choice. But filling up on these foods will likely leave you feeling more anxious than ever. Depending on the severity of the stress, which in some cases may need medical intervention and possible medication, studies have shown that certain foods decrease anxiety and stress.

Not just any food! Good food.

Good food that decreases anxiety and stress

Studies have shown that certain foods have decreased anxiety and stress levels. Most of these foods do not take hours to prepare and are quick-to-make snacks or meals.

The most common foods that reduce anxiety and stress:


Asparagus is high in folic acid, a mood-enhancer of note, and a perfect snack to keep on hand for tense situations.


Oranges are rich in vitamin C, which reduces blood pressure and returns the stress hormone cortisol, which causes you to crave bad foods to normal levels.

Whole grains

Whole grains, like whole-grain bread and pasta, are rich in magnesium, which is needed to prevent anxiety. They also create healthy energy and reduce hunger, both important in controlling stress and anxiety.

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate may help if you are craving something sweet. Research has shown that 40 grams of chocolate per day can help cope with stress. It releases endorphins in the brain, a substance that has a relaxing effect on the body.


A glass of warm milk is an excellent, time-tested remedy for insomnia and restlessness. If you don’t care for dairy milk or you’re lactose intolerant, almond milk is a good option. Milk is high in calcium and potassium, which have a calming effect and help relieve muscle spasms caused by tension.


Berries are more than a delicious fruit. Some nutritionists consider blueberries and strawberries, in particular, to be superfoods. Berries are loaded with phytochemicals (plant nutrients), folic acid, vitamins B and D, and omega 3. Research has clearly shown that berries will help you cope with daily life’s trials and anxieties.

Mixed nuts

Mixed nuts such as peanuts, cashews, and almonds have proven to be true, potent mood boosters. Almonds are sometimes underrated as they contain an impressive amount of zinc, an essential mineral for maintaining a balanced mood. Other nuts, including almonds, also have reasonable amounts of selenium, a mineral effective in reducing anxiety and helping to elevate the mood.

All the above foods, as well as others like avocados, and dark green veggies such as spinach, broccoli, and lettuce help you cope with anxiety. They contain vitamins and minerals that calm the mind and body. At the same time, your energy levels get a boost, motivating you to get some exercise, which will also stabilize your mood.

Just as important as eating the right foods to help decrease anxiety and stress, it is even more imperative to make sure you do not eat food that will aggravate your stress.

Foods to avoid when stressed or anxious

Foods to stay away from:

All refined foods

Refined foods such as cakes, pasta, rolls, cookies, and bread do not have any fiber to slow down the digestion of all the flour and sugar. Glucose levels go through the roof and spike the release of cortisol, which makes you crave even more of the same bad stuff.

Granola bar

Don’t go for a so-called healthy granola bar. It is just a sugar-rich candy bar with a few seeds added. Unless the ingredients are raw without sugars added, avoid these. Avoid other sweets as well.

Ice cream

Skip the deadly, delicious ice cream, universally favorite comfort food of the masses. The high sugar content will raise the cortisol levels, which leads to raised anxiety and more stress.

Fried foods

Avoid fried foods as much as possible, as even the ever-popular French fries are a big no-no! This comfort food is little more than unhealthy saturated fats and greasy carbs.

Finally, something to remember.

Overcoming anxiety without medication, or even with reduced medication, involves making permanent lifestyle changes, especially when it comes to your diet and getting some exercise.

Healthy eating and exercise are two of the best ways to control anxiety and stress. When you’re stressed (or really anytime for that matter), make sure to stay away from the comfort foods and eat the foods that have shown to decrease stress and anxiety. And always make sure that you drink enough water, as studies have found that many people who have persistent stress are also somewhat dehydrated, which is known to cause more anxiety.

If you are taking medication for stress, do not stop taking it or even reduce it without discussing it with your doctor. Getting in a better state of mind by choosing the right foods is not a call to toss your meds!





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A health and wellness advocate who helps other women unleash the secret sauce to boosting brain health and function - naturally. I’ll cheer you on with high-fives to celebrate your wellness wins, and I’ll be the perfect ‘pick-me-up’ when you need one. When I’m not dishing out actionable tips to help optimize your brain function, I’m a wife, grandma, fur mom. A lover of big, bold red wine, wannabe golfer, and believer in the power of dreaming no matter your age! 

I'm Genell, your new brain fitness coach.

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What does stress have to do with brain health? A lot. Ongoing stress creates an enormous strain on our nervous system. Reducing stress and building mental resilience is important to our greater well-being and is associated with reduced dementia.